By David Krueger Herald Writer
Lakewood quarterback Justin Peterson and his King’s counterpart Billy Green had answers to all the questions during a recent interview at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Except for one.
Who’s going to win the Lakewood-King’s game on Friday, Oct. 26?
“I can say we’ve been working hard and hopefully we come out on top,” Peterson said. “I’m just saying, we’re working hard.”
“Yeah it’s going to be a good game, it’s going to be a close one,” Green said almost immediately after. “So definitely come to that game.”
That game could determine not only bragging rights, but who finishes the season at the top of the Cascade Conference standings.
Last season, it was the Cougars who finished tied with Archbishop Murphy for the league title. Both teams finished with one conference loss — Murphy was beaten 26-22 by Lakewood and the Cougars fell 51-25 to Green and the Knights.
Peterson has never beaten King’s in his three-year varsity career at Lakewood — definitely something he would like to change. Could the fourth time be the charm?
“Right after we beat Murphy we went to King’s and lost big time,” Peterson recalled of 2011’s game. “We’re trying to be more consistent.”
Lakewood head coach Dan Teeter and Peterson quickly have turned around the Cougars’ football program. The team finished 3-7 during Peterson’s freshman season, the first time Peterson had ever really played quarterback.
“Teeter kind of converted me,” Peterson said. “I’d always been a running back or wide receiver in youth football. It just came naturally. I enjoyed it.”
Peterson’s diverse football background has made him not only a dual-threat quarterback, but a triple-threat quarterback. Last season, Peterson threw 11 touchdown passes, ran into the endzone 18 times and caught five touchdown receptions. (They were by fellow senior quarterback Kolby Schueller.)
Meanwhile, down south at King’s High School, Green has emerged into an ideal pocket passer — so much so that he already has committed to play next season at Brigham Young University. Last season, Green threw for 2,397 yards and 40 touchdowns. He also showed some running ability with 397 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
He was named to the Associated Press All-State team and was the Cascade Conference Offensive Most Valuable Player. So, how does he top that his senior season?
Simple. A state championship.
King’s has been knocked out of the 1A state championship in the quarterfinals the past three seasons. Green thinks the Knights will “be able to get over that hump” in his final year.
“Every other sport at our school has a state championship except for football,” Green said.
Once again expectations are high for Green and the Knights this season. They are ranked No. 1 in Class 1A in the Tacoma News-Tribune’s preseason poll, but Green’s not paying much attention to that.
“Preseason rankings mean nothing,” Green said.
Green will follow the guidance of King’s mainstay Jim Shapiro, who is entering his 19th season on the Knights’ coaching staff and his 16th as the head coach. Shapiro has coached several good quarterbacks, including King’s legend Thomas Vincent, who currently is a quarterback at the University of Washington quarterback.
Green hopes to finish his high school career on top before heading from one religious institution to another. Even though he’s not a member of the Mormon religion, he was drawn to BYU, in part because coaches expected him to continue to develop his own faith.
“They want you to grow in your faith,” Green said. “You go to church every Sunday.”
Green also thought it would be a relief to get the decision out of the way before the football season.
Peterson, however, is still in the middle of the recruitment frenzy. He says Central Washington University has “looked at me most.” He’s also drawn interest from Eastern Washington, Montana and Idaho.
He’s being recruited as an athlete, meaning he could really play anything. And, from what it sounds like, he’s pretty open to playing anything.
“I like receiver in college, probably, a little bit more than quarterback, but I like both pretty equally,” Peterson said.
But Peterson isn’t getting ahead of himself. Lakewood’s upcoming season comes first. The Cougars hope to top last season’s finish, which, like Green’s King’s team, ended with a loss in the state quarterfinals. Lakewood was beaten by W.F. West in the 2A state tournament.
Peterson holds a number of Lakewood records, including most touchdowns in a season (25), career (42) and game (5) as well as consecutive games with a touchdown (22). He also ranks fourth in career receptions and receiving yards.
In his final year, Peterson hopes to improve those numbers while also seeking to help the Cougars continue to improve. That means, among other things, a win in Week 9 at King’s.
Which, if Green has anything to say about it, is one goal Peterson won’t accomplish.
It may be too early in the season to predict who’s going to win that game, but it’s not too early to clear your schedule for Oct. 26 and prepare to witness it firsthand.